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Is Stonehenge near Glastonbury?
3 Feb 2023

Is Stonehenge near Glastonbury?

The distance between Glastonbury and Stonehenge is about 40 miles as the crow flies and slightly longer by road. Driving time is just over 1 hour via A303.

It is not easy to travel between these two places by public transport but if you are based in Glastonbury, Tor’s Tour of the Tor and Divine Light Centre run tours to Stonehenge and there are also local taxi companies who can arrange transport.

While the two places may seem separate and unconnected, the story of Stonehenge and Glastonbury is part of the sacred landscape of Britain and has led many people to believe that Stonehenge is near Glastonbury.

Stonehenge’s Location and History

Stonehenge is on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire which would have been covered in woodland. It is just one of many sites created by people living thousands of years ago, believed to have been constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC. Gradually during the earlier Neolithic period, people changed the landscape, building causeways, processional routes, possibly used on the longest and shortest days of the year, and long barrow tombs. It is believed that the community who built Stonehenge lived here over a period of several thousand years.

Lake Villages and Timber Trackways in Glastonbury

Meanwhile in Glastonbury evidence shows people also living here since Neolithic times in a very different landscape of water and marshland with higher ground forming islands. During the 7th millennium BC the sea level rose and flooded the valleys and low-lying ground surrounding Glastonbury. People lived on the higher ground or in Lake Villages. These villages were built on stilts linked by timber trackways such as the Sweet Track claimed to be the oldest road in the world dating from 3807 or 3806 BC. An Iron age village has been found near Glastonbury close to the old course of the River Brue 3 miles (5 km) north west of the town today.

Stonehenge’s Design and Alignment with the Sun

Stonehenge and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in It may have been a burial ground as human bone has been found here dating from as early as 3000 BC.  As with other Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments Stonehenge captures the sun rays at sunrise on the Summer Solstice. A large timber circle and a second avenue were constructed at Durrington Walls  overlooking the River Avon. The timber circle was orientated towards the rising Sun on the midwinter solstice. In the landscape postholes have been found which date to around 8000 BC facing east–west suggesting ritual use.

Britain has hundreds of sites from this period in history from Scotland to the furthest tip of Cornwall.

We can only wonder at the ability of people who understood the exact timings of annual solar events and were able to construct monuments to capture the sun’s light.

Stonehenge’s Prehistoric Face and the Origins of Its Builders

Who were these people? Thanks to archaeology we can start to imagine our ancestors who lived in the South west of England. Archaeologists’ recent discoveries reveal clues about people who, some 5500 years ago, were building the great ritual monuments of what would become the sacred landscape of Britain. A prehistoric face will welcome visitors from around the world to English Heritage’s Stonehenge visitor centre. This man was born around 5500 years ago, far to the west or north-west of Stonehenge area, probably in Wales (but possibly in Devon or Brittany). By analysing his teeth enamel, scientists believe that from the ages between 2-15 he travelled back and forth from east and west around the area that would, 500 years later, become the site of early Stonehenge.

Cheddar Man is a human male fossil found in Cheddar Gorge 14 miles from Glastonbury, making him Britain’s oldest near-complete human skeleton. His remains date to around 8470-8230 BC and it appears that he died a violent death. His DNA indicates that he was a typical member of the Western European hunter-gatherer population.

Glastonbury Lake Village and its Connection to Neolithic Life

The Neolithic people continued to use the reedswamps around Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels for their natural resources. We can imagine people living in Glastonbury Lake Village. It covers an area of 400 feet (120 m) north to south by 300 feet (90 m) east to west and housed around 100 people in groups of houses, each for an extended family, with sheds and barns, made of hazel and willow covered with reeds.

Links to our Neolithic ancestors are still strong. They looked for ‘special’ places and created sacred sites where people gathered for ceremonies and rituals. People still gather in large numbers for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. Pilgrims travel to Glastonbury to connect with its many myths and legends often connected to Glastonbury Tor. One story tells of Joseph of Arimathea who, maybe with Jesus, is said to have visited Glastonbury. He stuck his staff into the ground, which flowered miraculously and is known as Glastonbury Thorn. Descendants of the Holy Thorn can still be seen in the garden of Glastonbury Information Centre, Glastonbury Abbey and St John’s Church.

Celebrating the Stone Beings at Glastonbury’s Stone Circle

Thousands attend Glastonbury Festival (its name taken from our town), held in the nearby village of Pilton, which has its own Stone Circle! Ivan Mc Beth was the creator of the ‘Swan Circle’, inaugurated on Midsummer 1992 in King’s Meadow at Worthy Farm, The Glastonbury stone circle is a recent monument on the British landscape, yet it is visited by huge numbers of people over a very short period of time compared to Stonehenge where a maximum of around 20,000 people are able attend the managed Solstice event.

This contemporary circle celebrates the Stone Beings, the guardians and memory holders of the earth in the same way that stones were carefully selected for ancient stone circles. In order to hear them we need to slow down to the speed of stone! They are ready to guide us on our journey to become One with this beautiful planet again, and take up our roles in her evolution as she spins eternally through the stars.

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